If I had to choose a meme about what my life looks like right now as we near the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 lockdown, I have the perfect one in mind. Have you seen those side-by-side images showing how it started versus how it’s going?
Picture this: On the left side, there’s an image of Thor from all his Marvel movie glory—massive muscles, regal uniform, surrounded by his all-powerful lightning—representing the mindset I had when this whole crazy journey began.
On the other side, to represent the way I’m currently feeling, is an image of Thor after being destroyed by Thanos. Long gone are the massive muscles and regal uniform. Now, those are replaced with long, scraggly hair and a bowl of guacamole precariously perched on his burgeoning stomach.
Get the picture?
Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic. But I still believe this would be a pretty accurate representation of my mental state over the last 12 months.
How it Started
Maybe my downfall has less to do with the depths to which I have fallen and more to do with the unreasonably high expectations I began with. (Let’s blame it on that.) I started with a feeling of hope, a dogged determination that I was going to use this time to get my life all the way together.
In 2019, I’d set my sights on a healthier me, a career shift to focus on my personal business and an all-around empowerment kick that was going quite well.
I’d lost weight, signed deals and resigned from my full-time job to work for myself so I could focus more on my family and my home.
When I first learned my kids wouldn’t be returning to school after Spring Break, I thought it was an excellent time to push my efforts into overdrive.
I created thoughtful homeschool lessons, weekly service projects for my kids and more time out in the fresh air than ever before. My home was super clean, my groceries appropriately stocked and wiped down (laughs), and my kids rigorously scheduled.
The temporary lull in work was a welcome change, and gave me a few moments to resurface, reorganize and jump back in reinvigorated.
Heck, if only we could stay like this forever, right?
How it’s Going
But alas, nothing lasts forever.
Because we are socially distanced from our friends and neighbors, the only way I could connect with others was via social media.
The often ugly, irresponsible and ignorant posts shared by both sides of whatever the “issue of the day” was left me feeling isolated and alone.
There was just this overwhelming feeling that we can’t agree on anything. Every current event was thrown into the court of public opinion, and the people I used to break bread with were only serving to break my heart.
I realized that they were feeling the effects of social isolation just as much as I was—but knowing that provided little comfort while reading their comments online.
Pretty soon, I stopped checking in, losing the little connection I had with my old network.
The change in schedule and the new availability of every food in the Metroplex to arrive right to my door challenged my health goals. While workouts offer needed stress relief, I would be lying if I didn’t admit there were drastic changes to my diet—and not for the better.
And it was like the hits kept coming—lockdown, racial unrest, elections and weather disasters all playing against the backdrop of bleak news streams and constant death notices from family, friends and acquaintances who lost their battle with COVID-19.
Now that I find myself with an overloaded work schedule, all of my kids in school and sports and a milestone birthday looming, I must say the hopeful excitement of getting my life together in the midst of COVID-19 has all but slipped away.
I’ve slowly replaced all my good habits with bad ones. Instead of doing homework with the boys after school, I find myself throwing them snacks to keep them quiet while I Zoom from meeting after meeting.
I’ve swapped the jug of water by my bed at night with a glass of red wine. Instead of filling spare moments reading, I’m mindlessly earning stars to decorate an old mansion on a game app on my phone (I just finished the sitting room. It turned out really nice.)
But it’s Not All Bad
I must say, though many of the behaviors I started with did not become the lasting habits I was hoping for, I have experienced many blessings and had some overall improvements to my life during quarantine.
Our increased COVID-19 work schedules didn’t allow us the facetime we needed to get on each other’s nerves, so my husband and I have actually grown together and work better as a team.
Though my overused house suffers from alarming cleaning neglect, we made a few long-desired upgrades to our home in hopes of enjoying this space more as a family.
I’ve discovered new things about my children. I found better ways to motivate them, helped them uncover new interests and we even realized one has a surprising talent for the trumpet. (Yes, I bought my 7-year-old a trumpet on a whim because another thing this quarantine has changed is my spending behavior—coupled with the desperate need to keep my kids entertained has us eager to try new things.)
So I’ll leave you with this parting thought: We’ve always known life isn’t going to be fair.
But I think the most important thing this time has taught me is to stop lamenting over what I was “owed,” or what I feel I deserved, and just make the best with what I have. I’m not doing all the things I thought I would—heck, I’m not even doing half the things I started last year.
But I’m doing the best I can.
Jenay Sherman is a Christian, wife, and mother to four boys in McKinney, Texas. She was selected as the 2017 Texas Mother of the Year, loves writing about their family adventures, and she is a best-selling author of young adult fantasy books. You can follow along on Scary Mommy, or on her personal site, 4 Amusing Muses.
Image courtesy of iStock.